Has somebody ever said something to you that feels like it cut you to the bone?
I’m not talking about a mean-spirited comment or casual cruelty.
(Although you do see a lot of this from time to time in the legal industry, let me tell you!)
No, what I’m talking about is someone pointing out, one way or another, a “hard truth”.
One of those critical observations that knock you for six and leaves you reeling.
Have you ever thought about why they’re so uncomfortable?
Hard truths are a double whammy.
Not only do they reveal a problem that we might need to solve – that is so painfully obvious when it is pointed out.
They also have an implicit dimension that when we confront it feels like we’re being judged when they come up.
It is precisely because these truths are so obvious that this is the case. Simply put, it’s a little bit embarrassing that this painfully obvious flaw hasn’t been dealt with.
Hard truths have that extra emotional hurdle that we must get over to solve the problem.
That fear of the emotional knock is why these things are often the last thing on our to-do list – and why they become the hard truth in the first place.
But these iceberg problems, as I like to call them, are the kinds of things that cause us real difficulty if someone isn’t there to give us a kindly but urgent heads up to steer clear.
So why do we often find ourselves steaming headlong toward our own personal icebergs?
As business owners, it seems that we often spend our time aligning the stars themselves to set up so we can feel more comfortable.
In last week’s newsletter, I talked a bit about my experience over the past 15 years running Virtuoso Legal. With the economic crash in 2008 and the Covid-19 pandemic (as well as everything else) – I can tell you that 90% of the time it hasn’t been a cruise holiday!
But of course, get too comfy and soon you find yourself not really on the cutting edge anymore. This is how businesses stagnate and suddenly get whacked off the side of the planet.
Think Kodak when digital cameras came along, or Blockbuster when Netflix started rearing its head.
It is a slippery slope!
Ultimately, being a business owner is all about looking to that next challenge and charging toward it without wavering.
Nothing interesting happens in your comfort zone. Nothing worth doing is ever easy.
And as we know, it is things that we’re not very good at (and which we’re perhaps a bit embarrassed about dealing with) that offer the most opportunity for growth. Continual improvement is what keeps you relevant in the marketplace, end of.
For that reason, I would encourage you to place that big thing that has been lurking at the bottom of your to-do list at the top. You will probably surprise yourself with how much finally getting it sorted will achieve for your business and yourself personally.
Here’s to the truth sayers
Because of all of this, it is more important than ever to seek and surround yourself with truth sayers. People who will tell you what you need to know quickly and repeatedly.
These people should be:
- Insightful and articulate
- Offer you a different perspective (no “yes men”)
- Have your best interests at heart, but are not afraid to challenge you
The problem with a “yes man”, or someone who is only looking out for themselves is that they will say what they need to keep in your good graces.
Simply put, they will not risk making you feel uncomfortable, as it might put their interests in jeopardy.
This validation, whilst it feels good "in the moment", is emotional junk food and only clouds your awareness of what really needs to be addressed.
Recognise and distance yourself from these people.
Truthsayers, on the other hand, are a rare breed, and you should do everything you can to recognise them and place them in your inner circle.
And most importantly, you should empower them so they’re not fearful of the consequences of telling you something that makes you feel a bit uncomfortable.
I hope that all of you have people like this close to your business, they really are worth their weight in gold.
We like to make you feel uncomfortable
At Virtuoso Legal, we’re in the business of delivering hard truths.
When it comes to helping businesses get out of a spot of bother – sometimes to make an omelette you must “break a few eggs”.
We value our clients’ time and cutting to the chase to achieve what we need to for them is our modus operandi.
You’d think that this can sometimes rankle, but the truth of it is that (once you get past the slightly uncomfortable moment) business owners prefer a thorny truth.
Again, it’s dealing with those uncomfortable realities assertively that is where the real value in what we offer lies. It helps us move quickly and decisively with key stakeholders enjoying absolute clarity.
What is the weight of a bruised ego against serious and lasting damage to your business?
I suppose some other lawyers don’t do this, so it can come as a surprise to some clients who are used to things being a bit more saccharine!
But time and time again the feedback we get from our clients is that our “honesty is refreshing” and that we get “straight to the point”.
It’s a theme in our reviews and testimonials which I am quite proud of.
I hope you have a fantastic week, do get in touch if there is anything we can help you with.